Thursday, September 4, 2008

CLASS A PREVIEW

TROY - The Section II Class A schedule for the 2008 season is loaded with can't miss games.
With class AA Queensbury and Troy High dropping down to the single A level this season a solid division has become absolutely stacked top to bottom. With Amsterdam, Bishop Maginn, Burnt Hills, Troy and Lansingburgh, Class A has become the SEC of Section II, brimming with talent and intriguing match ups week after week.

Perhaps the most intriguing of them all comes in Week 7, a renewal of an old Collar City rivalry, Troy at Lansingburgh. You can't say the schedule makers didn't get this one right, pitting the two Troy schools against each other in the final week of the regular season The two schools haven't faced each other since the early 1950's when Troy, Lansingburgh, Catholic Central and La Salle squared off in City-League action.

The schools have gone their separate ways since those heated games in the early '50s. Troy played in the Class A league from the 50's through the late 70's when the Flying Horses joined the Big 10 Conference. In 1989 Troy joined the newly formed Metroland Conference before going back to the Big 10 in 1995, Class AA in 2004 and now back down to A for 2008.

Lansingburgh played in the Eastern Conference, the Capital District League, the Colonial Council, the Capital Conference (Class B) and Division II of Class A (now known as the Southeast Division).

The Troy schools do share something in common though, two of the top coaches in Section II in Lansingburgh's Pete Porcelli and Jack Burger at Troy. So as you can expect neither coach is saying much about the Week 7 showdown. They've been doing this long enough to know that anything taken out of context could become motivation for the opposition. The players mirror the coaches, all they'll talk about is the task at hand, whoever they're playing in Week 1.

"Obviously a lot of hype is going into it," said Lansingburgh running back Marcus Hepp, "but right now we're just focused on Week 1 and that's all really we can do. When it gets here, we will be focused on it and (we'll) play our hearts out."

"We take it game by game," said Knights lineman Da'Quan Davis. "We don't worry about anybody. We just stay focused."

That workman like attitude has built Lansingburgh into one of the premier programs in Section II. Under coach Porcelli Lansingburgh has won Class B titles in 2002, 2003, 2005 and a Class A championship in 2007. The Knights advanced to the the state final before falling to Aquinas last year. Porcelli has built a 63-14 record in his seven years at Lansingburgh and currently sits 11th on the active coaches win list (69-17). Porcelli's double wing offense has become a staple in the area.

Despite the loss of quarterback Connor Gallo and star running backs Kenny Youngs and Nyquan McGirt, Porcelli will stick with the offense that's brought the Knights success. T.J. McLaughlin will take over at quarterback and Hepp will get the majority of carries.

"Same style nothing has changed," Porcelli said. "Hard-nosed running the football, you know if it isn't broke don't fix it. We tell the kids tradition never graduates. They understand the bar has been raised here and we have to keep that bar high."

Travel a little more than three miles south from Lansingburgh and you'll find a similar approach with similar results at Troy High School.

Jack Burger returned to the Flying Horses sidelines last year after a four-year hiatus from the program. In his first tenure at the school he guided the Flying Horses to six Section II titles, four state final appearances and two state titles (1996 and 1998). He is seventh on the active winningest coaches list with a 95-41-1 record.Burger and the Flying Horses are looking for big things after a 7-2 2007 campaign in Class AA.

Troy has 23 seniors returning this year and many, like senior quarterback Zach Dolan, will benefit from having a year of Burger's system under their belts. Wide out Paul Ahsburn brings speed and elusiveness to balance out Troy's smash mouth approach.

"We have some weapons on the perimeter," Burger said. "We'll be able to throw the ball a little more than we have in the past."

"It's the second year with the systems both offensively and defensively. I think the continuity of being in the same offense and defense for two years is going to make some kids feel much more comfortable." With the move to Class A Troy will no longer face its other cross town rival La Salle Institute. The Horses will again face rivals Bishop Maginn and Amsterdam, long-time staples since the days of the Big 10.

"The greatest thing is we have some of our real traditional rivals back," Burger said. "For the last 30 years some of the best games in Section II has been the Troy-Amsterdam game, real battles. Same thing with Maginn, we've played them in a couple of Super Bowls"

As for Lansingburgh, Burger will worry about the Knights when Week 7 rolls around. Untill then it's one game at a time. "The thing is, that's going to become a nice rivalry (Lansingburgh), Burger said. "The thing is you have to worry about Week 1 in Queensbury."

Players to Watch

Paul Layton, Burnt Hills, SR. QB 6-1, 195
The Spartans veteran quarterback returns for his senior year with hopes of a third consecutive Super Bowl appearance. The Spartans won the 2006 class A title. Layton totaled 1,560 yards on the ground and through the air in 2007. Last year’s class a Division I co-player-of-the-year also excels at kicker. Layton con¬nected on 39 extra points and three field goals in 2007.
Marcus Hepp, Lansingburgh, Sr. RB, 5-6, 180
The Knights third option at running back last year will assume the No. 1 role in the 2008 campaign. Hepp put up huge numbers behind the graduated Kenny Youngs and NyQuan McGirt rush¬ing for 1,029 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior.
Zach Dolan, Troy, SR. QB, 6-1
Dolan will be the key to the Flying Horses success in the ultra-com¬petitive A's. He should be more comfortable at play caller entering his second year under coach Jack Burger's system. Dolan will have a reliable target in senior wide receiver Paul Ashburn.
Bunduka Kargbo, Bishop Maginn, SR. QB, 6-1, 175
The Griffins veteran quarterback could be primed for a big sen¬ior season. Kargbo may be the most athletic player to line up under center in the league. He was a member of Maginn's state championship basketball team last year and was an all-state selection at defensive back in 2007.
T.J. McLaughlin, Lansingburgh, SR. QB, 6-0 180
McLaughlin takes over the quarterback spot for the Knights with the graduation of Connor Gallo. McLaughlin has limited game-experience at the position. He led a scoring drive in last years Class A Super Bowl when Gallo was injured.
Justin Collen, Averill Park, JR DL, 5-10, 225
Collen has started every year since his freshman season on the Warriors line. He was a first-team Southeast Division all-star and a third-team selection on the The Record's all-area team. Collen had 39 tackles and four fumble recoveries in 2007.
Ben Miseikis, Amsterdam, Sr., RB, 5-10, 200
With graduation depleting so many key positions for the Rams the play of its three running backs especially Miseikis will be cru¬cial to Amsterdam’s success. Rams head coach Pat Liverio believes Miseikis is set for a big year as long as the young line in front of him does its job. Miseikis ran for 518 yards and seven touchdowns as a junior.
Paul Ashburn, Troy, SR., WR, 5-8
Ashburn should but up solid numbers as quarterback Zach Dolan’s No.1 option when throwing the ball. Ashburn caught three touchdowns passes last year but should improve as he and the rest of the offensive unit will be more familiar with coach Jack Burger’s system.
Kyle Kelly, Glens Falls, SR. QB, 5-11, 170


Kelly is one of the top returning quarterbacks in Section II having put up big numbers his junior year. The Indians other weapon in the backfield running back Dan Morrison is also back to help open the field up for Kelly.
James Torres, Bishop Maginn, Sr, TE, 6-3, 240
Torres was named to The Record’s third-team all area team at tight end last year. A member of the Griffin’s state champion basketball team, Torres brings both size and athleticism to coach Joe Grasso’s squad.


Class A Preseason Poll
Northwest Division

1. Burnt Hills: Head coach Matt Shell has the Spartans primed to make a third consecutive trip to the class A Super Bowl. Quarterback/kicker Paul Layton was the class A division I co-player-of-the-year last year and is in his fourth year varsity sea¬son under center. The Spartans will have a good mix of veterans and members of last year’s junior varsity Super Bowl team. They travel to Scotia week one before a huge match up at home against Lansingburgh week two.
2. Amsterdam: The Rugged Rams will be a young and inexpe¬rienced team this year but you should never count a Pat Liverio coached team out. The Rams three running backs, Dan McNamara, Ben Miseikis and Tom Regal, will be the strength of the team. Quarterback Frank Peluso will start for the first time in the Rams tough week one opener at Bishop Maginn
3. Glens Falls: The Indians will be tested right off the bat with an inter league match up at Lansingburgh week one. Quarterback Kyle Kelly returns to lead a Glens Falls team that finished 4-5 last season. Kelly should be well protected as he has a mostly vet¬eran line in front of him
4. Gloversville: The Huskies travel to Mohonasen week one then have a brutal stretch weeks two through seven. Gloversville has games at home against Maginn, Burnt Hills, on the road to Queensbury, back home for South Glens Falls and Amsterdam before closing at Glens Falls. The Huskies have talent but they may become a victim of the loaded class A schedule come play¬off time.
5. Queensbury: The Spartans are the other team along with Troy that moves down from Class AA this year. Their Week 1 match up with the Horses may tell us a lot as to what Queensbury will do this year. The Spartans finished with just two wins in AA last year but we’re better than their record showed. Things wont be much easier in the A’s.
Southeast Division
1. Troy:
If anything the Flying Horses will be an experienced team this season. Troy has a roster of 23 returning seasons, many at key positions. Quarterback Zach Dolan and favorite tar¬get Paul Ashburn are back as well as one of the better defensive secondary's in section II with Steve Seebald, Mike Melville and Rashawn Moore. The Horses open up with another former class AA school Queensbury on Saturday. Troy gets the top spot for now but the Southeast Division is probably the most competitive league in section II with talent from top to bottom.
2. Lansingburgh: Last year's class A champs made it all the way to the Carrier Dome before falling to Aquinas in the state championship game. The Knights lost a lot to graduation in Connor Gallo (QB), Kenny Youngs (RB), Nyquan McGirt (RB), and Chris Sawyer (LB). Coach Porcelli is confident in his team though as 1,000-yard rusher Marcus Hepp returns and T.J.McLaughlin takes over at quarterback. The Knights host Glens Falls in week one.
3. Bishop Maginn: The Griffins will field as athletic a team as there is in class A. Bunduka Kargbo, an all-state defensive back selection, will be under center again for coach Joe Grasso's squad. The Griffs have speed at the skill positions with T.J. Jefferson, Jarel Turner and Rohan Rose at wide receiver and Kargbo's basketball teammate James Torres at tight end. Maginn has a hard road to travel with Amsterdam, Lansingburgh and Troy on its schedule this season.
4. Averill Park: The Warriors return 11 varsity players from a 3-6 team last year. Quarterback and Southeast Division honorable mention Tim Murdick is back as well as second-team wide receiver Matt Joe and three-year starter Andy Goyer at tight end. Justin Collen was a first-team Southeast Division all star and The Record's third-team all-area lineman. Collen is joined on the line by Southeast Division second-teamer’s Kyle Byrne and Nate Brown.
5. Mohonasen: The Warriors will be a young team with just four seniors returning for first year head coach Josh Whipple. Whipple will look to Quarterback Bryan Ziborowski and down lineman Nick Kosakowski to lead the inexperienced Warriors through the competitive Southeast.
Class A Schedule
Week One

Friday September 5
Non-division
South Glens Falls at Averill Park, 7 p.m.
Amsterdam at Bishop Maginn, 7 p.m.
Glens Falls at Lansingburgh, 7p.m.
Burnt Hills at Scotia, 7 p.m.
Gloversville at Mohonasen, 7 p.m.
Saturday, September 6
Non-Division
Queensbury at Troy, 1:30 p.m.
CLASS A
2007 Standings
Division I W L W L
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake (10) 4 0 8 2
Bishop Maginn 3 1 6 3
Averill Park 1 3 3 6
Scotia-Glenville 1 3 2 7
Mohonasen 1 3 1 8
Division II W L W L
Lansingburgh (2) 4 0 11 2
Amsterdam (12) 3 1 7 2
Glens Falls 3 1 4 5
Gloversville 1 3 4 5
South Glens Falls 0 4 3 6
*Numbers in parenthesis indicate final 2007 state ranking

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